The challenges facing the marine business could make any ship captain double check their bearings — industry uncertainty and the need to go further and deeper in harsher conditions to meet customer demands.
In the choppy waters of the marine business, stability is the name of the game. Whether exploring for oil & gas in deep waters offshore, touring in a luxury cruise-liner or transporting LNG, everyone is after the same thing — greater efficiency.
Beyond just saving on fuel, the marine industry has made reducing carbon emissions a key priority. While shipping actually emits much less CO2 per ton mile than the trucking, the sheer scale of a sector responsible for transporting 90 percent of the world’s goods means that every incremental increase in efficiency makes a big difference.
We need smarter, greener marine solutions. It’s not enough to boast the fastest engine or the biggest hull on the seas — it’s about being able to do more with less energy and a smaller environmental impact.
Innovative shipowners and builders are managing costs, improving reliability and coasting through increasingly stringent environmental standards driven by the latest technologies. From more fuel-efficient propulsion to intuitive positioning systems and predictive Industrial Internet solutions, it requires a whole-vessel strategy to compete in today’s global marine space.
This and listening to our customers has changed the way we think at GE. The result is that we’re taking an integrated approach to supporting innovation in the marine industry. The launch of our GE Marine business will bring our customers faster and simpler integration of complex marine systems built on efficient solutions proven in harsh environments.
Listening, understanding and evolving with the industry, we at GE see several areas of advancement that promise to deliver significant efficiencies to the marine industry.
It starts with power, helping customers to maximize output while minimizing fuel use and emissions. For example, advances in dual-fuel electric propulsion systems and gas turbine-based COGES (combined gas turbine electric and steam) generation help to optimize performance across a range of operating conditions and reduce fuel consumption in the process.
After the U.S. Navy upgraded the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island to a GE hybrid electrical and gas propulsion system, fuel savings totaled $15 million during a seven-month deployment. And we’re supplying Harvey Gulf with the latest diesel engines, compliant with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 4 requirements, to power support vessels for the company’s deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
GE’s latest dynamic positioning (DP) technology uses computer modeling to effectively manage multiple data streams with unprecedented flexibility to help keep a vessel on course, complete with an energy-efficient DP mode that saves significant amounts of fuel, reduces equipment wear and tear, and increases machinery maintenance intervals. As part of GE’s ecomagination portfolio, the new DP energy-efficient mode supports GE’s commitment to deliver cleaner and more-efficient sources of energy. Operational costs can be reduced and overall system uptime/availability increased.
At GE, we’re turning data into knowledge for our customers, connecting systems and people in a way that makes smarter decisions simpler. Whether it’s Big Data analytics or smaller design changes, we’re working to power a more efficient, safer and cleaner marine industry.
Tim Schweikert is Vice President, GE Marine.